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US 'pivots', China reaps dividends

"Our first objective is to prevent the reemergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere ... ". Thus spake the United States in 1992, and it is all one needs to know about the Obama administration's "pivot" to Asia - or to anywhere else - and the president's present tour there. How does Beijing react to such hysterics? Simple: by reaping dividends. - Pepe Escobar (Apr 24, '14)

Steps toward trust in South China Sea
Concerns about increased militarization over China's claims in the South China Sea amid US determination to "pivot" to Asia serve as a worrying backdrop to President Obama's visit to the region. Reversing the present intensification of tension is nevertheless possible without either side having to retreat from their overall goals.
- Lyle Goldstein and Wu Xinbo (Apr 24, '14)

Wardrums in Myanmar's Wa hills

The chief of Myanmar's armed forces, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, took to the hills near the Chinese border this month with a message for the United Wa State Army, the country's largest insurgent group, to sign a national ceasefire agreement or face the consequences as the only ethnic faction holding out against peace. Military action could prove counterproductive, but national pride and angst over Chinese influence appear to be leading the charge. - Anthony Davis (Apr 23, '14)

Purge tightens
Xi's grip on reform

First former security czar Zhou Yongkang is put under virtual house arrest; now Central Military Commission generals Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong stand accused of selling promotions. The anti-corruption campaign is gathering pace, giving President Xi Jinping greater control of two pillars of the China Communist Party establishment and the kind of upper hand for enacting reform that the Cultural Revolution gave Deng Xiaoping. - Francesco Sisci (Apr 23, '14)

Rationality deserts Pakistani military

Pakistan's long record of military coups stands as testament that those with the power to impose martial law in the country do not require any rationality or public approval to do so. That mindset sets the scene for what could transpire if the army closes ranks to protect Pervez Musharraf from the weight of civilian law that the generals feel does not apply to them.
- Malik Basharat Awan (Apr 24, '14)

From Flanders to Helmand
Poppies are flourishing across Helmand in Afghanistan as the British Army prepares to leave a province that became central to its stated mission to develop a "self-sustaining, stable and democratic Afghanistan". But as followed battles such as Flanders in World War I, there are whispers that the British boys killed and maimed in Helmand were lions led by donkeys.
- Brian Cloughley (Apr 24, '14)

US choppers carry mixed message on Egypt
US Secretary of State Chuck Hagel this week told Egypt that he doubts whether the country is taking steps to support a democratic transition. At the same time, he confirmed the delivery of Apache attack helicopters to support military chief and presidential shoo-in Abdel Fatah al-Sisi's counter-terror operations. The arms delivery, according to rights groups, destroys the credibility and impact of US condemnation of Egypt's crackdown on legitimate dissent.
- Jasmin Ramsey (Apr 24, '14)

Obama empty-handed in Asia
As questions hang large over whether the US has the resources to back its rhetoric of standing firm behind China's neighbors, President Barack Obama has turned up in the region empty-handed. The White House is attempting to cool expectations over its proposed trans-Pacific trading bloc, and its allies and partners see reasons to doubt America's military staying power.
- David J Karl (Apr 24, '14)

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Obama runs China's pivot gauntlet

Barack Obama is taking part in a pivot promotion tour of Asia with a certain smugness that the political and economic foundations of a China-containment regime have been laid. But with overt confrontation in East Asia from Beijing signaling its preparedness to manage relations in more hostile ways, the US president has no reason to feel other than the beginning of the end for the American Century is upon him.
- Peter Lee (Apr 22, '14)

Hypocrisy carries a price in Ukraine
Theories abound as to what exactly caused the collapse of the Soviet Union, but they can be trumped by one reason alone: an unbearable cognitive dissonance or, to put it more simply, an all-prevailing sense of total hypocrisy. As the US desperately seeks some kind of victory in the Ukraine, its AngloZionists should be all too aware of the price to pay for prizing vanity above truth. (Apr 23, '14)

US hands Palestine a loaded deck
The pro-Israel past of prominent figures on the US side of the flagging Middle East peace process undermines Washington's honest-broker status while highlighting why the US has come to accept sometimes extreme Israeli demands as mainstream discourse. Far from pursuing the process to reach a meaningful solution, the latest initiative seems designed to give the US a useful regional platform. - Ramzy Baroud (Apr 23, '14)

Too big to jail in
the 'post-legal' US

Kidnapping, torture and perjury committed by members of the US's national security system have gone unpunished in the Obama era, while "outsiders" revealing information that threatens the state have been pursued relentlessly. The case of General James Cartwright, a once "favorite" of the American president who is suspected of leaking information about a covert cyberattack on Iran, could therefore set a new precedent.
- Tom Engelhardt (Apr 22, '14)

India can no longer ignore Gulf labor pain
The attraction of the Gulf countries and Saudi Arabia to Indian migrant workers used to give a diplomatic card to New Delhi. Riyadh's expulsion of 140,000 Indian expats ended that and has made it imperative to begin long-neglected hard work on the legal and institutional framework to ensure Indians in the region get a better deal.
- Zakir Hussain (Apr 23, '14)

Japan warns Beijing over ship seizure
Japan has warned that the seizure by China of a container ship owned by Mitsui OSK Lines for its failure to respond to a wartime compensation order may damage bilateral economic ties to the extent that it "may rock the foundation of the 1972 joint statement's spirit that normalized Japan-China diplomatic relations". (Apr 22, '14)

Putin warns of US navy threat
President Vladimir Putin last week described North Atlantic Treaty Organization missile batteries aimed at Russia's Black Sea coastline as threatening the nuclear defenses of southwestern Russia, the first time the president or Russian defense officials have put Crimea into Russian strategic survival doctrine. US Navy deployment in the Black Sea of ships armed with Aegis missiles is one of the concrete threats Putin was referring to. - John Helmer (Apr 22, '14)

Hoodwinked by the Strangelove effect
As NATO's post-Cold War eastward expansion rolls relentlessly towards Ukraine, and as US plans to mass troops in the Asia-Pacific evolve, it is as if the dark world of nuclear lunacy glimpsed in the Stanley Kubrick satire Dr Strangelove had been reborn for the 21st century. The maniacs in charge may be different, but the US vision to dominate the Eurasian landmass hasn't changed. (Apr 22, '14)

Boy made first ferry distress call
A fire station passed on to coastguards the first distress call from a sinking South Korean ferry, made by a frightened boy three minutes after the vessel made its fateful last turn. The call was followed by others to the fire brigade from about 20 children, Yonhap news agency reported.
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Myanmar opposition pioneer Win Tin dies
Veteran journalist Win Tin, who co-founded Myanmar's opposition National League for Democracy with Aung San Suu Kyi and became the country's longest-incarcerated political prisoner, has died in Yangon at the age of 85.
(Apr 22, '14)

India's women lose the election

Political parties in India, even those vociferously supporting the reservation of seats for women in parliament, have failed to put up on average even one woman for every 10 male candidates contesting the current election in the lower house. While pressure for change is growing as quotas in local assemblies create a significant mass of grassroots leaders among them, women feel they have lost out nationally.
- Manipadma Jena (Apr 22, '14)

Yue Yuen strike spreads to Jiangxi
A strike by workers at a Yue Yuen shoe factory, one of the biggest in China, in southern Guangdong province has spread to another factory run by the Taiwan-owned company in eastern Jiangxi province. (Apr 22, '14)

Ukraine and the
grand chessboard

In a sane, non-Hobbesian environment, a neutral Ukraine would only gain by positioning itself as a privileged crossroads between the European Union and the proposed Eurasian Union, as well as a key node of the Chinese New Silk Road - not to mention of vital link in a common market from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Instead, the present disaster is a big spanner in the works - a spanner that suits only one player: the US government.
- Pepe Escobar (Apr 17, '14)


Aging Japan seeks more foreign workers
Desperate for more workers to support a construction boom, Japan has proposed to expand its controversial foreign trainee program to permit more unskilled labor from Asia to work in Japanese companies for five years from the current three years.
- Suvendrini Kakuchi

Market valuation and
the 'two egg' problem

An oversimplified use of the "two egg" formula to explain step-like movements in asset prices would suggest investors push up the markets in ever smaller increments to figure out where breaking points lie. This ignores human and technical factors affecting the market's fragility.
- Chan Akya (Apr 23, '14)

Inflation's broken link
The absence of high inflation under the huge expansion of the Federal Reserve's monetary base suggests that either monetary theory must be wrong or the recent extreme monetary policy must be producing pathological behavior in the banking system.
- Martin Hutchinson (Apr 23, '14)

A surreal Yellen show
Watching Janet Yellen's televised appearance before the Economic Club of New York just seemed surreal. Amid an out-of-control experiment with monetary inflation, the new Fed chair was welcomed with reverence. The whole exercise was discomforting. (Apr 22, '14)
Doug Noland looks at the previous week's events each Monday.

Neon lights of
Kiev haunt China

The trip by the US Vice-President Joe Biden to Kiev this week becomes a "turning point" in the Ukraine crisis. Biden is not exactly a popular figure for the Moscow establishment, which associates him with the countless humiliations heaped on Russia by US triumphalist policies in the post-Soviet era ...
- M K Bhadrakumar

Perhaps the author of "Obama runs China's pivot gauntlet" [April 22, 2014] is suggesting that exercising might with restraint creates "ugly Chinese" and "goonish behavior".
Jeff Church
   Go to Letters to the Editor

1. Ukraine and the grand chessboard

2. It's our UN party

3. Breaking bad in southern NATOstan

4. Rockefeller rebooted for Asia's century

5. The promise of deflation

6. Baloch separatists follow Taliban footsteps

7. Sex, politics and the Chinese city

8. 'Sex symbols' a poor proxy in Sri Lanka

9. Indonesia and those dashed lines

10. The finance millstone

(Apr 18-21, 2014)


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